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The Mystery of John & Henry who went to St. Paul, Minnesota

I have found two versions of a family story that has come down in the lines of the children of Henry & Elenor (Thompson) Bennett, and I am not sure which is correct.

The first is written in a book by Warren Reid, descendant of Henry & Elenor's daughter Sarah Cline Bennett Reid:

"Another document indicates Sarah Cline had a brother by the name of Henry, who lived in Detroit, MI., having moved there from St.Paul, MN. John Bennett, a brother along with Henry moved to St.Paul, MN., from Crawford County, and reportedly built the first frame house in St.Paul. John developed a serious case of arthritis and became an invalid."

The second is from Arlene Adkins, another descendant of Henry & Elenor's daughter Sarah Cline Bennett Reid:

“I'm sure you have heard other stories about people that you have researched. Our family has this one: A couple by the name of Thompson set sail for the United States via Ireland. They discovered that she was pregnant so they chose to stay in Ireland. Twelve years later they set sail for America again. By this time they had two boys and a girl. The eldest was the girl (Elenor). During the trip both parents fell ill and died. They were buried at sea. There was a family on board by the name of Cline who took the children and raised them as their own. The girl married Henry Bennett and the two boys went to Minnesota. In St. Paul they were builders, and built the first frame house there. This story has been known to Henry's family. In fact I corresponded with a cousin whose grandmother was a sister to my grandfather, John Bennett Reed"

Both Warren Reid and Arlene Adkins are both great researchers and sources that I consider to be very reliable, but the two stories above leave a question as to whether the John & Henry who went to Minnesota were brothers or sons of Elenor Thompson Bennett. In trying to confirm the stories, I have found evidence that could support either side.

To support the story that John & Henry were Bennetts and sons of Henry & Elenor Bennett:

FOR: John C. Bennett, son of Henry & Eleanor, was definitely a carpenter. He is listed in 1860 as being a Master Carpenter, and in 1870 as being a Carpenter Builder. He also did emigrate to Michigan, and lived in Branch Co., Michigan for many years.

AGAINST: St. Paul, MN was founded in the 1830's and from birth places of his children, John C. Bennett was in Pennsylvania through 1845. He was in Michigan by1848, so if he did go to St. Paul, it would have been briefly, and in 1846 or 1847. Also he may have developed arthritis and became and invalid, but there is nothing on the census records that indicates that he was an invalid, and he married, had at least 6 children, and was still alive in 1880. I have not found record that Henry & Elenor had a son named Henry (Jr) at this time. There is possibly a son age 5-9 on the 1830 census who is unidentified and may be this Henry, although if there was census taker error, this son may also be William Perry Bennett, who should be age 10-19 at that time and is not listed in the household that year. I have not found Henry Bennett Jr. on the 1840 census at this time, and he is not listed as a son in the will of Henry Bennett in 1856, but there are some Bennett grandchildren listed who could belong to Henry Jr. (if he existed), or to Henry & Elenor's sons Samuel T. & William Perry Bennett who were also deceased by that time.

To support the story that John & Henry were Thompsons, and brothers of Elenor Thompson Bennett:

FOR: I don't know a lot about the two brothers of Elenor, and they could be the ones who went to Minnesota, and on to Detroit. Elenor Thompson was born in 1782 in Ireland, so if her parents emigrated 12 years after her birth with 3 children, the 2 boys were born probably between 1783-1793, and the family came to America about 1794. At least one online source says that the city of St. Paul, MN was founded in 1838, and the Thompson sons would be age 35-45 that year so could be the ones who emigrated there and helped found the town. No census record exist for Minnesota in 1830 or 1840, so it is difficult to know if they were there at that time.

AGAINST: I do not find either of them in 1850 in Minnesota or Michigan, and I searched for anyone born 1783 to 1793 in Ireland, and also under names John & Henry Thompson or Cline (soundexed).